This fourth and concluding article of the series on the necessity of preparations summarizes the first three articles and closes on the major benefits and advantages of being adequately prepared and staying prepared at all times.
The introductory article of the series observed the following: during the first Advent God sent his messenger (prophet) John to prepare the way for Jesus. And John indeed had a message for them. His message was a call for individual and national renewal and the preparations needed to be ready to be directed and led by God Almighty Himself in all the vicissitudes and changes of life. Hence, Advent is about preparing our hearts and minds and homes to receive God’s supreme gift, Jesus Christ and to strive to live the way he desires. The best way to prepare for this important gift and event is repentance which means the change of heart, mind and conduct. This in turn means getting rid of evil in its myriad forms and holding fast to what is good. In other words, not to be overcome and ruled by evil but rather to overcome evil with good by thinking and doing those things that build up self, the family, community and the wider society.
The particular emphasis of the series is on preparation. What then does it mean to prepare for someone or something important? The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the word to prepare as the art of making someone or something ready to be used or to do something. It means “to make yourself ready to do something or for something you expect to happen”.
The second article noted the following points: why is being prepared so important in life? Someone has clearly and rightly said that if we fail to prepare we prepare to fail! The fact of the matter is that preparation is one of the key requirements for succeeding in life in general and in most endeavors. Preparations help one make use of the many opportunities and challenges that one encounters. It ensures success or at least the satisfaction of having done one’s best. Success should not always be the measure of one’s worth but rather giving one’s best in terms of preparation and doing one’s best in the face of a particular challenge or opportunity. If one does his/her part well and yet fails then, from a Christian perspective, God has something better in store. One must always prepare for the important things in life in order to take advantage of opportunities when they come and to experience the pleasure of having done one’s best in executing significant tasks.
In the third article the following points were made: preparations of most kind involve three essentials: knowledge, skills and experience. To be prepared for any tasks or situations is to have the knowledge required to perform the task at hand or to face the situation confronting one or the expecting task or situation.
In addition to knowledge, skills and experience, adequate preparations require two essential elements. These elements are discipline and persistence. The word discipline in a more general sense is the art of controlling and directing one’s mind, heart and body in a way that leads to self-control, obedience to what is right, just and fair in the sight of God and man. It is the training of the whole person in the attainment of positive results in life’s main goals.
Persistence is the ability to hold on, keep pressing on, and doing all one can till the expected result is obtained. According to the Encarta dictionaries, persistence is “the quality of continuing steadily despite problems and difficulties”. Without persistence many of us would experience failures most of the time. We all meet or face many odds or challenges in our varied facets of life in the pursuance of big and small goals and objectives in life. Discipline and persistence derive from being focused on worthwhile goals and objectives in life. To prepare well is to pursue knowledge, skills and experience coupled with the virtues of discipline and perseverance.
In short preparations give one the added advantage of being ready to make the most of the opportunities and challenges of life as they come and a sense of having done one’s best in given situations. It is a general truth that those who prepare themselves well before they are confronted with various circumstances and opportunities tend to do by far better than those who do not prepare but rather leave things to chance.